We are coming to the close of day 6 here in Nicaragua and it was a great Sabbath day.  It was breakfast, team devo and then TAWG before loading the bus to head to Verbo Church (that is the church the Buzbees attend).  We took a moment to pray for our Mission Atlanta team, which is our 8th and 9th graders that left today on their mission.

Verbo is pretty international in feel so we recognized some songs, but struggled a bit during the sermon.  But we truly were the ones blessed and had our eyes open by joining our Nica brothers and sisters in worship.  The Spirit of God was most certainly in that place!  We did our best to keep up with the energy of worship and to sing the songs.  We also did our best to understand the sermon that was preached.

Every year, I’m reminded of the reality that while we are worshipping here in Nica, our faith family was worshipping at Wildwood as well as those from around the world that gathered this morning in worship of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  Scripture reminds us that the Gospel will reach and unite “every tribe and every tongue and ever nation.”  We got to experience a bit of that this morning as we were the minority in culture and in language.  I have a feeling the same will be true of heaven.

After a quick pit stop to the grocery store to load up on more lunch supplies for the week, we returned to the Quinta for lunch.  Then we took advantage of the Sabbath rest that we are called to.  From some reading and relaxing to some pool time, everyone enjoyed having a day off from work to rest up for what we have in store this week.  We had a few that needed the down time as we’ve had a bit of sickness start to spread around.  In fact, please pray for those that are currently fighting something off, but also pray that the rest of the team will stay healthy!

We also used some of the afternoon to sort and fold the donated clothes which resulted in yet another Nica fashion show.  Hopefully the pictures will never surface on social media!

Our evening finished up with dinner, team time and small groups.  God is doing a good work in our evening time as we are opening up our hearts to His pursuit and calling us to a deeper, more intimate relationship with Him.  Students are risking vulnerability as the Spirit moves in their hearts and stories are being shared

Today was much needed and we are prayerful all will heal and will be ready for a day of serving (construction) out at the ranch.  Thanks for continuing to pray with us!

Nica Team

 

 

 

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Community Day today was a huge success and a great finish to our week at camp.  We got the kids all fired up to invite their families to come out today and we were pretty stoked to see a good crowd walking up the road to the Ranch.  All in all we had about 120 join us for a day of fun and games and relationship building.

We started out by gathering everyone to talk about what we did at camp and also the reason our team travelled so far to come to Nicaragua.  We wanted to make sure they didn’t see us as the heroes, but Jesus as the hero and to know the hope of the Gospel.

From there, we got the camp kids back in their groups for some friendly competition.  From tug of war, to the dizzy bat relay, water balloons and other races, we had a great time just letting kids be kids.  And the parents seemed to really enjoy watching their kids have fun.  We had time before lunch to fire up the zip line, had kids on the trampoline and playground and we also got a baseball game going.

Lunch arrived and the team got going serving everyone some delicious arroz con pollo. We make it a high priority at camp to serve the kids (and their families) as a way to show honor and display the Gospel.

From lunch it was time to do the pinatas, which are a special tradition here.  We had 4 pinatas and let them go by group until candy was flying everywhere.  And if that wasn’t enough sugar, we purchased 4 big sheet cakes to serve!

Next up was the water slide.  A scream of excitement filled the Rancho as we gave instructions.  The water slide occupied most of the kids for the rest of the day and it was awesome to see some of our old campers (who are teenagers now) join in on the fun.  We even had some mom’s and dad’s give it a try as well.

We dismissed the kids for home and that left just enough time to tackle one project.  The new bathroom was at the point where it could be polyurethaned so we put all hands on deck (literally) and got it completed.  The masons also completed the walkway that we got going and so we came behind and moved all the excess dirt and now the pathway and driveway (dirt) are looking good.

It was a hot, sunny day, so most of us were pretty exhausted after our team time.  Pray for a few on the team who aren’t feeling well.  Pray that God would heal and restore them!

Mornings come early here but are such an awesome time to spend with the Lord.  The beauty of the Quinta with the sun breaking through the trees, the gentle breeze and the birds chirping is such a great setting to connect with God.  We are learning that hearing His voice as we read His Word and pray is so much easier when we don’t have the usual distractions we are used to.  And this individual TAWG and team devo time really sets lays the foundation for our day.

Today, we headed out for our final day of regular camp.  But first, we had some projects to occupy us before the kids arrived.  A few tackled moving some more cantera stones for the sidewalk, while others worked on the bathroom project and then the rest went up to the cabin to clean the exterior in preparation for the coat of polyurethane.  We made good progress before it was time to grab some lunch and prepare for the kids arrival and to start camp with their lunch.

Speaking of lunch, it’s humbling to watch them take their lunches and only eat a portion in order to save the rest for later to take to their families.  It’s a change in perspective for many of us, who wouldn’t think much about saving food, much less thinking about saving our food for others.

After lunch the rotation began for our camp stations and our team did a great job leading the kids in Bible, English, Sports, Music and Arts/Crafts.  The Gospel is going out through each of these groups and in the relationships we are forming.

And it’s been awesome to see the progress Ruby Ranch is making as teams continue to invest in the future of the Ranch.  Even to know that we are enjoying and building on the work that previous teams laid – like the zip line which was enjoyed by the kids today at their Sports rotation.  Or to be working on the cabin that others invested in financially to see come to fruition and we are just one small piece that will help continue it’s progress.  Only heaven will reveal one day what these investments, year after year and team after team will have produced for the Kingdom.

God is doing a good work, not only through our serving out at Ruby Ranch, but also in our team time as we continue to look at our relationship with God and what it looks like to fight for joy in our relationship with Christ.  That we would find our identity in Him and delight in Him knowing that we have “tasted and seen that the Lord is good.” (Psalm 34:8).  He is bringing conviction to our hearts and a desire to walk in faithfulness.

Tomorrow is our community day and big camp finale.  Please pray for us and pray especially that as the Gospel is preached, many would hear and know of God’s amazing love and respond in faith to the good news.

We are settling in to a rhythm here not only with our days, but even our construction and camp schedule.  We are also adjusting to the culture and Nica-time which means we are learning to be flexible.  And learning this together and getting settled in has unified the team more and more as our goal is growing in our love for Jesus and for one another.

Today, was pretty similar to yesterday as we arrived at Ruby Ranch to first do construction and then camp.  We divided up a bit for construction and had one team working on digging a trench to run water and power to the new bathrooms that are being built and then the other team working on the pathway that will connect the Rancho to the water slide.  More dirt had to be removed, but the biggest move was all the cantera stones – which is no easy task.  We moved them along the pathway to make it easier for the masons to get into place.  It was awesome to see the pathway starting to take shape.

We then all joined together to work on backfilling dirt behind the retaining wall that was built behind the first cabin at Ruby Ranch.  The new cabin is beautiful and one of many to come that will allow teams to do overnight camp.  After unearthing a good few tarantulas, we just kept moving dirt.  The teamwork was evident and we’ll just have a little more to finish this project.

But we had to break in order to eat our lunch before the kids arrived for our second day of camp.  And then we start to hear the sound of children coming up the road.  We welcomed back all the campers and after their lunch, camp was underway.  There were new lessons, activities and excitement for the kids to experience today.  Each group and station leaders did a great job making camp happen.  What a joy to see the happiness of the kids as they went station to station.  They are engaging in the camp process and in relationship with our team.  Most stayed well after camp time to keep playing with us.

A little more work up by the cabin finished up a long and hot day.  We again arrived pretty dirty but hungry and are enjoying our evenings together – from our meal, to our team time, to our small group time.  God is really pressing in on our hearts about the competing desires that distract us from Him being our ultimate desire and delight.  We are learning more about our hearts and how we can connect with God.

Please join us in praying for our last full day of camp.  Pray we will be faithful to the Gospel and love and share Jesus well tomorrow!

We had our first full day here in Nicaragua, and after catching up on some much needed rest, we were ready to hit the ground running.  Days start pretty early for us and after breakfast one of the team leads us in a brief team devo and prayer time before individual TAWG (time alone with God).  The bus horn signals it’s time to load up to head out to Ruby Ranch.

Upon arrival, the station leaders staked out their locations for camp and all the final preparations were underway.  We did have to flip our “normal” camp in the morning and construction in the afternoon, so we actually started the day with our first construction project which will eventually involve the Wildwood favorite… cantera stones.  We’re started prepping for a walkway that will connect the Rancho to the walkway we build last year around the water slide.

We didn’t get much time to work before the noises of children coming up the road alerted us to prepare for our camp opening.  After gathering and welcoming all the campers, we started by feeding them the lunch we provide.  It’s always amazing to see the kids only eat a little of the lunch and save the rest to take home to their family.

After lunch, we divided into our four groups and started the rotations.  I got to walk around and experience each station and was so proud of how our team planned and executed their first day lesson plans.  It is truly a picture of the body of Christ at work!

These kids all come from the El Caimito community and it’s a good mixture of kids we had last year and some new ones.  We have 50 campers participating this week with us.  They jumped right in to each new experience and the relationship bonds started to be renewed or start new this year.  This is truly the heartbeat of what we do – trying to build relationships that cross language barriers with the home of showing and sharing the Good News with these kids.  Please pray for their hearts to receive our love and most importantly, the love of Christ!

We had a good, full first day, but our work wasn’t done.  We loaded up some tools on the bus and did some road repair on the drive out.  The road is ok, but always pretty wrecked from the rainy season, so we became the Public Works department to work on a section that was giving the bus trouble.  You never know what project we will tackle!

Back to the Quinta for our dinner, then a bit of time to clean up before team time and small group time.  We are looking at the question, “What happens when I lose my love for God?”  We are digging into God’s Word and looking into our hearts to truly understand and apply what John Piper says so well, “God is most glorified in us, when we are most satisfied in Him.”  Thanks for reading today and for praying for our team!

Another year has lead to another flight with another team that has made the journey down here to Nicaragua.  We are now 14 years strong in sending student ministry teams from Wildwood down here to partner with Open Hearts Ministries and the Buzbee family.  This place has most certainly become home away from home for me.  And this is a place of memories and such a special place where God’s Spirit has so faithfully met us year after year.

Our daily was fairly uneventful today as most of it was consumed with travel.  But we are all pretty wiped as we met this morning at 4:15a to get loaded up to head to the airport.  This was our earliest Tallahassee departure.  But we all sleepily made it on to the plane en route to Miami.  We arrived in Miami to a decent layover to grab some breakfast and coffee to get us going.

We almost had a scare when we realized at boarding time that our gate was changed and had a quick jog to another concourse.  But the flight was delayed so we made it in time and we were off to Nicaragua in no time.  We touched down to remember that we said goodbye to AC for 12 days!

A quick stop to the grocery store to load up on supplies for lunches (and some personal snacks) and then we arrived at the Quinta.  After lunch we got settled and actually enjoyed an afternoon of rest and relaxation after a pretty exhausting travel morning.

Dinner, sorting our bags and then our team time capped off the evening.  We shared where we saw God at work today and our expectations that He would meet us here and work powerfully in and through us.  We appreciate you praying for us to that end.

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Memories and Milestones

Posted: June 20, 2017 in Family Life
Tags: , , ,

Memory is a funny thing.  Some of the things we hope to remember often elude us, while other more difficult or painful memories seem to continually resurface.  But then there is the practice of purposeful remembering.  Scripture continually points us to this practice, which was instituted by God for the people of God.  And the point of purposeful remembering throughout Scripture is for the people of God to focus on what God has done and continues to do.  His grace, mercy and provision continually abounds to His people.  So we are called to purposefully remember His forgiveness, faithfulness, promises and deliverance in spite of our (mankind’s) continual pattern of rebellion.

It was on this day, June 19, three years ago, that we are purposefully remembering.  It is colea day we have marked to remember as one of the many days where God showed His faithfulness to our family and to our son, Cole, specifically.  It was this day where after the initial diagnosis of Perthes disease, where I watched my son get rolled down a hallway to the operating suite at Children’s Hospital of Birmingham.

And while some of the initial feelings have either faded or been replaced the memories still remain… purposefully.  It would be easy to take these memories and put them in a storage container labeled “The Past” and just move on.  After all, Cole’s future looks promising and his daily functioning is beyond what we could have even processed sitting in that hospital waiting room three years ago.

So why remember?  Because God calls us to.

coleOur story, and more specifically Cole’s story, is wrapped up in a greater narrative that God is telling.  It’s a story of the amazing design of a Creator, the sin and brokenness (including Perthes disease) of a people and the beauty of redemption that comes through the hero of this story – Jesus Christ.  And the good news doesn’t even end with the hero… it ends with that same Creator God, making “all things new.”  What’s broken will be restored once and for all.

That’s why we remember.  Because when we do, we are telling THAT story through OUR story.  Cole’s story is one of a faithful God who has amazing plans and purposes for His children, even if they are plans we wouldn’t have chosen.  And they are good plans, even though some of the stories don’t seem to have happily ever after endings.

It’s been a whirlwind of a three-plus year journey for Cole.  But it’s been one most certainly marked by God’s faithfulness.  We’ve done a major surgery, a spica cast, a wheelchair, a walker, a cast removal, physical therapy, a second surgery, another wheelchair, another walker, many trips to the radiologist for x-rays, multiple consults and follow-up appointments in Alabama… just to name a few memories and milestones on the medical side.  Then of course there’s been milestones in life… birthdays to celebrate, the ability to play and compete on sports team and to run and simply enjoying being a kid.

 

All that to say… we purposefully remember.  We celebrate the memories and the milestones of a good God with a good plan for Cole.  The journey’s not over.  There’s more follow-up visits to come as we journey through the remainder of the disease and healing process.  But we’ll remember along the way.  And it’s with gratitude that we remember all of you that have walked this road with us through encouragement, prayers and your support.  We are thankful.  God is good.

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